Every man that works or plays in cold weather should have a good pair of winter boots in his home. Many people however, get confused when it comes to winter boots and snow boots. Each one is designed for a specific function and knowing what you're going to use them for is important. A winter boot is a general-use boot for cold weather while a snow boot is designed for deep snow or wet conditions. While all snow boots will excel in the winter, there are many winter boots that are woefully inadequate for use in really harsh conditions. Think of snow boots as specialized winter boots. With this in mind, we'll keep our eye on snow boots for the most part.
Since snow boots are designed to keep your feet warm and dry in the very worst conditions, they have some common characteristics. The first of these characteristics is waterproofing. Snow boots are made to be totally waterproof, not just resistant. When you're out in cold, wet weather for hours at a time, even the best winter boots will eventually get soaked.
The second important feature of a good snow boot is a snow gator. Most winter boots don't have a snow gator, however. Basically, a snow gator is any design feature made to keep snow from tumbling into your boot and melting. One of the better and more common kinds of gator is a simple drawstring located at the top of the boot.
Another vital piece of snow boot design is their height. In the case of snow boots, the higher the better. I'm not talking about wearing hip waders, but they'll be taller than a standard winter boot. These extra-tall boots are another feature designed to keep snow from rising of the top of your boot and tumbling in.
The last and possibly most important feature of a snow boot is their rubber bottom. Rubber provides 100% waterproofing and is critical for extended time in cold, wet environments. It also has the added benefit of easy cleaning. Now that you have a better understanding of the qualities of a good snow boot, let's look at some of the better snow boots available.
The Caribou Snow Boot, by Sorel is an excellent boot and highly regarded by folks who know the cold outdoors. The Caribou features completely waterproof leather upper and rubber shell, as well as an Aerotrac outsole to provide maximum traction in some of the worst conditions. This boot is rated to -40 degrees, thanks to its acrylic snow cuff and easily removable ThermoPlus InnerBoot, which provides outstanding comfort, moisture transfer and warmth. They stand 9 inches tall and retail for around $110 and are worth every penny.
Another great boot by Sorel is the Conquest. This is an outstanding boot are geared more towards use in rugged terrain than the Snow Boot mentioned earlier. It has a 100% waterproof leather upper and full rubber lower portion, including an Aerotrac outsole for continued waterproofing. Insulated with 400g Thinsulate, this boot is rated to -40 degrees. The Conquest is lined with fleece, making it extremely warm and comfortable, while still keeping your feet dry. Instead of an acrylic snow cuff, the Conquest uses a highly effective drawstring to keep snow from entering the top of the boot. This boot features a removable insole; it also has additional ankle support which drastically reduces the chances of twisting or breaking your ankle. Retailing for about $120, these boots are great for the true outdoor adventurer.
The North Face produces the next pair outstanding snow boots. These are the Baltoro HV 1000. The Baltoro HV 1000 has a waterproof leather upper and a full rubber outsole which provides excellent traction. These boots are rated to an amazing 90 degrees below zero, thanks in part to 1000g PrimaLoft insulation and an interior lined with Dri-Lex fleece. The fleece lining, along with their 9 inch height, helps keep snow from falling into the boots. These good-looking boots also have a nylon shank insert for added stability and a removable antimicrobial insole to inhibit odors and bacteria growth. If you're looking for the ultimate in warmth, these boots will set you back about $125.
Another fine snow boot is the B52 TS GTX Snow Boot. One of the best looking pairs of snow boots around, they're made of polyurethane coated leather and ultra-gripping rubber soles, making them highly waterproof. The B52 TS GTX Snow Boot is rated at -40 degrees because of its 400 gram insulation and synthetic fur lining. These boots are amazingly lightweight but still rise to above ankle height. For comfort, the B52s have removable EVA mid-soles. At about $135, these shoes combine outstanding comfort and good looks.
The final snow boot to look at is Keen's Dakota Boot. Like the other boots on this list, these are made with waterproof leather uppers and rubber soles. They're rated at -25 thanks to their 200 grams of Primaloft insulation and felted micro-fleece lining. The Dakota Boot stands seven inches tall and has a built-in drawstring gator for added warmth when the snow is piled high. These very lightweight boots have excellent traction and are very comfortable, even after long hours of wear. Dakota's have a removable EVA insole and zip closed. At a price of around $110, these are a great option for anyone below the Arctic Circle.
All of these are excellent boots and a good choice for anyone needing to be out in the cold for any length of time. If you're looking to really be out in the worst of it though, I would recommend the Baltoro HV 1000, from The North Face. They're the ultimate in warmth and protection, coupled with a price that's comparable to other leading boots. These are the boots that the real pros use. On the other hand, if you aren't planning an Arctic expedition and just want a really good boot to keep you warm and dry for hours at a time, then I recommend Keen's Dakota Boot. They combine all the features needed for just about anyone short of a world-class mountaineer.